Sweet Chariot To Run Scots Over
England v Scotland
After a disappointing performance two weeks ago against Ireland, Stuart Lancaster’s men take on the auld Enemy, Scotland, at Twickenham.
England kicked off their 6 Nations campaign in extraordinary fashion, earning a heroic victory at the Millennium Stadium, despite fielding a line-up including five debutants, and then survived an early scare against Italy to run in six tries and pick up a second win. They came unstuck in Dublin last time but victories in their last two winnable fixtures would at least keep the pressure on Ireland and put them in with a chance of lifting the trophy.
Scotland have improved steadily under Vern Cotter, and made a promising start to this year’s campaign, scoring the only try in a hard-fought game in Paris and grafting hard against a full-strength Wales side at Murrayfield. But they finished with nothing to show for their endeavours, and were undone by a spirited Italian side last time, to leave them once again contemplating the wooden spoon.
England have suffered further injury blows with the loss of Brad Barritt, who had been expected to return for this match, and Tom Croft, who dislocated his shoulder playing for Leicester. But there is better news on full-back Mike Brown who has been cleared to return to play after his concussion against Italy and both Tom Wood and Courtney Lawes are in line for a return after recovering from injury.
Scotland have been weakened by injury problems throughout the tournament so far and once again will be without key players this weekend. Wing Sean Lamont sustained a knee injury in a game against Zebre last Friday, and will be replaced by Glasgow team-mate Sean Maitland and both fly-half Peter Horne and hooker Ross Ford are doubtful due to concussion.
Head to Head
Since the start of the 6 Nations, England have won eleven of their fifteen encounters with Scotland, but the rivalry hasn’t been quite as one-sided as the stats suggest.
England may have won the last two matches against Scotland, by twenty points on each occasion, including a 20-0 victory at Murrayfield last year, but until 2013, their matches had been a lot closer, Scotland having lost their three prior matches by six, four and seven points.
The Scots’ last victory in this fixture came in the 6 Nations of 2008. That result came was at Murrayfield where they also enjoyed wins over England in 2000 and 2006, as well as a draw in 2010. It has been a different story on English soil however, and Scotland haven’t won at Twickenham since 1983.
Scotland’s promising start to the tournament has turned into familiar disappointment and with two games to go they are looking like wooden spoon candidates. They won’t lack for passion against the Auld Enemy, but weakened by injury and low on confidence after their defeat to Italy, I can’t see them getting within twenty points of the home side. Back England -15 at 10/11 in the Match Handicap market.